Amélie’s first holiday

I think I have given you a small clue where we have just been.  Yes, the Bagnalls have been away from the moor for a week.  Éowyn’s first holiday was in Devon (the lovely Noss Mayo); Amélie’s first holiday was the other side of the country in Kingsdown, Kent.  We stayed in a triangular (more of that later) lodge in Kingsdown Park.  Self-catered as it is so much easier with the little ones and gives you a little more freedom than a B&B or a hotel.  We had packed for sunny weather (t-shirts, shorts and sandals) but the good weather, the flaming June, that we had been promised failed to materialise (that will trust me to listen to Lucinda, who had read it in the Daily Mail – need I say any more?).  I think we had two days that the sun appeared and one of them was dry.  Nevertheless with true British indomitability, steely determination and downright stubbornness we refused to allow the weather to spoil the holiday and donned shorts and headed out to meet the weather full on.  It is amazing what you can do with a pac-a-mac.

Kingsdown is on the coast just south of Walmer.  If that hasn’t helped you it is South of Deal and North of Dover and if it still hasn’t helped you it is the bit of England that points towards France.  We had no reason to chose it over any other town in Kent (and indeed Kent over any other county) we had just decided to go somewhere different and explore a bit more of our wonderful country.  The triangular lodges looked a novelty and seemed better that a caravan, posh tent or 1950’s holiday camp.  However, after 30 seconds in the lodge you realised why the majority of houses are based on the square (OK. oblong) and hence most rooms are cubes (OK. oblonguloids – not a word? Cuboids then!), because sloping walls greatly reduce the amount of ‘usable‘ floor space and when you are over six feet tall (1.9 metres to be exact) that usable floor space is even less.  I lost count on how many times I banged my head, especially when getting out of bed or sitting on the sofa.  In fairness to the park though, the layout of the lodges was excellent, and if we had had a sunny week I could have imagined Éowyn would have spent a fair amount of time playing on the green between the lodges and perhaps may have even made friends with some of the other children that were in residence.  The staff were excellent and the facilities more than adequate, however both Lucinda and I do not feel that triangular living is for us.

The area of Kent that we stayed has huge historical significance for our country, from Roman invasion sites through to the Second World War; pointing at the Continent as it does it is obviously the first point for entry into our land.  Being in the heart of Cinque Port land however was completely lost on Éowyn who preferred the simpler pleasures of the park’s swings and jumping in muddy puddles.  (Everybody enjoys jumping up and down in muddy puddles!)  Therefore our trip to Walmer Castle, the home (and the place he died) of Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley (The Duke of Wellington) was wasted upon her.  I think we will have to postpone that subscription to English Heritage.

Again the trip to Sandwich was equally boring for her, until we can across a little nature reserve and there were bags of seed that you could buy to feed the ducks.  All of a sudden this was interesting and she didn’t want to leave. 

Meanwhile, Amélie was having a torrid time with her teeth and had hardly slept for two nights.  Her crying kept waking Éowyn so by day three of the holiday, it wasn’t looking good.  We were knackered, had discovered the triangular living was not for us, the weather was appalling, this part of Kent has no analogue transmission of channel 5 (no Peppa Pig in the morning), the digital transmission was so poor that it couldn’t be watched (no CBeebies), and all Éowyn wanted to do was play on the swings, we only had summery clothes and being on diets we couldn’t even pig out on fish and chips or an ice-cream.  It wasn’t looking like the best of holidays.

Then there was a break in the clouds and all seemed well with the world.  We headed over to Whitstable to meet up with my friend Andy and his dad George.  George took us around Whitstable giving us the guided tour and again Éowyn was getting a little bored and then we saw the beach.  The beach at Whitstable is a stony beach that slopes steeply into the sea.  Perfect for picking up stones and throwing them into the sea.  One of the greatest pleasures in life is standing at the water’s edge and throw stones.  Myself, Andy and Éowyn did this for nigh on an hour.  I think Andy and I got bored with this long before Éowyn, though we kept her company.  This was probably the turning point in the holiday.  Amélie slept well that night (therefore so did we) and the sun promised to shine.

The next day we visited more friends of ours that live in Kent.  Ed and Marisol and their daughter Frieda who we met at N.C.T. classes when we were expecting Éowyn.  They have since moved to Cranbrook in deepest darkest Kent and so we rarely see them.  Since we were on holiday in the county it was too good an opportunity to miss.  We spent the day at their house and were the first guests to sample a meal cooked in their new kitchen.  We were honoured.  Considering the girls barely know each other, they, on the whole, played nicely together.  Although there was a little bit of possessiveness over toys.  All to be expected.  We took a short walk from their house (in between torrential downpours) to a nearby field to feed some horses.  I was a little amazed well Éowyn took to feeding the huge (to her) beasts.  Just living up to her name I suppose.

Our final day in Kent was met with more rain.  In fact it didn’t stop all day, oblivious to the fact that the news was about drought in the South East of England and the fact that is had snowed on the tallest mountain in Wales  (Snowdon).  We were at a loss to think of something to do and had decided to go to Canterbury.  However, after chatting to the receptionist at the holiday park we opted to follow her suggestion of Wingham Wildlife Park and despite the horrendous weather it was probably the best day out (for Éowyn at least).  More than a petting zoo/ farm but not quite a grown up zoo it is an excellent place to visit and I would recommend it to any one.  There are free roaming ducks, chickens, guinea fowl, peacocks and wallabies.  Walk-in cages with Ring-Tailed Lemurs and Cotton Eared Marmosets.  They even have two baby tiger cubs, very cute as well as being the only place in Kent that has penguins (Humboldt’s to be exact).  Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would consider going again, hopefully with better weather as many of the animals were sheltering from the rain as much as we were.

I will bore you no longer and leave you with a larger than normal selection of photos.

Peace and Love